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Woman charged with murder of 2-year-old granddaughter

Published: Jun. 10, 2021 at 10:58 AM EDT
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CINCINNATI (WXIX) - Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters announced the murder indictment Thursday against LaTonya Austin for the death of her 2-year-old granddaughter.

Austin is now charged with one count of aggravated murder, two counts of murder, two counts of felonious assault, one count of tampering with evidence, and one count gross abuse of a corpse.

She was previously indicted for gross abuse of a corpse and tampering with evidence after Zaila Lee’s body was located in a cooler on Austin’s property.

Austin, 42, of South Fairmount is accused of putting her granddaughter’s body into multiple trash bags and placing them in the cooler, according to a criminal complaint.

Austin put the blame on another child in the home, telling police that the child “shook and cut her up with scissors,” the documents state.

She also told police the girl had been dead for a month.

The Hamilton County Coroner’s Office ruled Zaila’s death a homicide as a result of blunt-force trauma to the head.

Additionally, the 2-year-old suffered postmortem injuries, including a deep laceration near her hip and a broken right arm, according to the prosecutor’s office.

“It is impossible to comprehend the depravity of an individual able to, not only strike a 2-year-old so hard to cause her death, but to then attempt to conceal that crime by stuffing the child’s lifeless body into a cooler. As a father and a grandfather, I am sick,” Deters said. “I am saying a prayer for this victim’s siblings, and the members of the Cincinnati Police Department who had to process and investigate this horrible scene.”

At the time, Austin had custody of her two children and her grandchildren.

The remaining three children in her care have been placed in temporary custody.

If convicted on all charges, Austin faces life in prison.

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